Billboard Bits: MTV Base, KCRW World Fest, Modern Drummer

News on MTV Base, KCRW World Fest, Modern Drummer

WillWill Smith and Ludacris will headline the kick-off concert for MTV base, the music network's first pan-African channel. To be held April 20 in Johannesburg at a venue to be announced, the event will also boast performances from Lebo Mathosa, Mandoza and Seun Kuti, who will be backed by his late father Fela's legendary Egypt 80 band. Highlights from the concert will be broadcast on myriad MTV channels in May.

MTV base says it is committed to developing grass-roots African music talent. The channel is also broadcasting a weekly 30-minute music documentary series, "MTV Base Spotlight," focusing on emerging artists from around the continent.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

MaBasement Jaxx, Royksopp, David Byrne, the Arcade Fire, Yo-Yo Ma, Femi Kuti and Mos Def have signed on for Los Angeles radio station KCRW's World Music Festival, to be held throughout the summer at the Hollywood Bowl. Byrne, the Arcade Fire, Si*Se and the Extra Action Marching Band will kick things off on June 26; KCRW music director Nic Harcourt will host.

Basement Jaxx, Royksopp and Bossacucanova will headline the Planet Electronica event on July 17, followed by a bill featuring Femi Kuti and Mos Def on July 24. Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble are confirmed for Aug. 7, while Desmond Dekker, Maxi Priest and Black Uhuru will lead Reggae Night IV on Aug. 28. The event will close Sept. 11 with Destination Hawaii, featuring a host of performers from the island.

In related news, has learned that Royksopp is eyeing a June 28 release for its as-yet-untitled sophomore Astralwerks album. Group member Torbjorn Brundtland
told in January that the group was excited to get back on the road, even though "we never considered ourselves live musicians. But it seems like the songs went down really well, no matter where we played. We have a very sparse setup, so to speak, but we feel energy is more important than having 20 people on stage."

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

WillFrom Sheila E and jazz great Roy Haynes to Deep Purple's Ian Paice and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith, the Modern Drummer Festival Weekend 2005 will feature the participation of a host of celebrated percussionists. Set for May 28-29 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, the event will boast concert performances and clinics, as well as autograph sessions and giveaways.

Others confirmed to appear include Tool's Danny Carey, Shadows Fall's Jason Bittner, Lamb Of God's Chris Adler, Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Sting) and Zoro (Lenny Kravitz).

Tickets range from $60 to $125 and are available through the venue's
box office. For more information on the event, visit

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.